Science: Perilous Times for the Pyramids

Without help soon, Egypt's unique archaeological treasures will be lost to humanity

Sitting impassively on the sunbaked Giza Plateau on Cairo's outskirts, the pyramids look from a distance as though they have hardly aged in the more than 4 1/2 millenniums since they were built. But up close they look anything but eternal. Rubble and rock dust crumbling from the pyramid of Chephren have accumulated in piles on its lower levels. In the pyramid of Cheops, encrustations of salt, left by the evaporation of brackish groundwater, have eaten away at the walls of the burial chamber. The Sphinx, a few hundred feet away from the pyramids, has lost a 600-lb. chunk from its...

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